Before I started college last year, I wanted to be over prepare for whatever came my way. I wrote color coordinated lists of things I needed to pack, I made sure I had an outfit for every weather situation that could possibly happen, and I made sure I read every single article I could find about starting college life. But what I realized after one year of school is that you can’t always know everything all at once – and that’s okay. Sometimes, you have to just live and learn and pick up little pieces of wisdom along the way. As a recent college freshman I know I learned more things in two semesters of college life than what I have listed here, but I hope that these little tips will help you keep your sanity through those exciting four (or more!) years of your college career.
1.Know your roommate’s schedule for classes and work. You don’t want to accidentally wake her up on a morning that she gets the chance to sleep in.
2.Don’t give up when you don’t make friends with people right away. I found it a little hard to make friends at school because I had pretty much grown up with he same friends since kindergarten. It takes a little time. Just be kind to everyone and the people who click with you will hang around with you before you know it.
3. Always keep a couple plastic food containers. These come in handy not only for taking your meal from the food court to go (if your school allows you to) or saving left over pizza from a party but they can even be used storing your makeup or bobby pins.
4. Clorox wet wipes can be used in place of the Swiffer refills. Instead of separating one wipe, leave two connected together at the perforation and fit it into the Swiffer mop just like you would with a regular Swiffer refill wipe. It will save you a ton of money and get your floor just as clean.
5. Learn to be creative at meals. Add some cheese from the salad bar the the soup that is just a little too bland. Use the honey mustard salad dressing as dipping sauce for your chicken fingers and fries. If you think it will taste good, try it, especially if the cafeteria food isn’t that great.
6. Take advantage of good weather by studying outside. Being outside usually keeps you more alert and it’s much better to study outside than it is to study on your bed…with your head on the pillow…with your eyes closed. I think you get my drift.
7. Learn how to study like a pro. Check out this blog post here (study tips) to find some of the best study tips to help you ace your classes.
8. Write note cards for research papers, especially long, term papers. They may take a little extra time, but making note cards not only saves you from carrying around a ton of books and articles it also helps you organize all of your thoughts and make the process for putting your paper together a little more simple.
9. Always have someone proofread your research papers. I have turned in one too many essays that I could have easily gotten an A on if I had just asked someone to proofread it for me. Spell check doesn’t always catch everything especially if the word you used is spelled correctly but shouldn’t be in the sentence. Ask your roommate or a friend to read it over and check for errors. If you don’t have anyone to read it for you trying reading it out loud or reading it from the end to the beginning. Since you already know what you wanted to say when you wrote the paper, changing up how you read it when you check it over will make the errors more noticeable.
10. Wait to actually get the syllabus before you purchase any books. There’s nothing more disappointing then spending a fortune on a text book that the teacher doesn’t even require you to read. You might even want to wait until after drop/add period to even consider getting a text book especially if you might be dropping that class after you get the syllabus.
11. Skype really is amazing, especially if you have friends who are studying abroad for a semester. Making international phone calls is outrageously expensive. Plus, it’s more fun to see your family and friends while you’re talking to them than it is to just hear them talk on the phone.
12. Update your resume and make it look professional. You never know when you will have a spontaneous opportunity to apply for an internship. It’s best to keep your resume up to date before you go to school so you’re not scrambling to throw one together at the last minute.
13. Make Spotify playlists. In my opinion, Spotify is better than Pandora because you can make your own playlists and play the songs you actually want to listen to. You can make playlists to listen to when you’re waking up in the morning, when you’re studying, or when you just want to listen to some relaxing tunes on a Friday night in your room.
14. Know where the free food is going to be.Volunteer, attend seminars and recitals, or just participate in dorm parties and activities. Most of the time, participating in these activities will not only be fun but you can even get an extra meal or a snack by just showing up.
15. Find a good bathroom to help you avoid being late to class. You don’t want to have to wait in line in a crowded bathroom when you only have 10 minutes to get to your next class. Scout out a bathroom that is not only clean, but is usually less crowded between classes.
16. Get a good water bottle. Make sure it’s leak proof because you don’t want it to spill in your book bag and soak your $300 text book. Also, make sure it’s a medium to large size. You want to drink plenty of water throughout the day with out having to make several trips to the water fountain to fill it up.
17. Bring plenty of comfortable underwear to help cut down on laundry costs. I made the mistake of not bringing more than enough pairs. I felt like I did laundry at least once a week only because I ran out of underwear. Make sure they’re comfortable, too. You can never have too many pairs of panties, girl!
18. Granola or protein bars are great to have on hand when you don’t have time to eat breakfast before going to class. Protein bars are very filling and are quick enough to grab and throw in your purse for a quick breakfast and a snack to tide you over until lunch.
19. The dollar store is a great place to find a ton of organizing materials and school supplies. There’s no shame in saving money!
20. Always ask a store if they give a student discount. You will never know unless you ask. Some stores give up to a %20 discount just for showing your school ID card. %20 may not sound like a lot of money, but it all adds up in the end.
21. Know the climate of the area where you’re going to school. This will help you pack the clothing you will wear most often instead of having your closet cluttered with clothes you may only get to wear once.
22. If your school has a free workout room/gym on campus, you had better use it as often as possible. Take a friend with you, too!
23. Have a “junk email” so you can sign up for special deals and coupons. Plus, always be on the look out for local deals at food places like Starbucks’ 1/2 frappuccino week.
24. Go to class. You aren’t paying a ton of money to sleep in and chill out in the dorm all day.
25. If a nice guy asks you out, at least give him a chance. He didn’t ask you to marry him. He just wants to get to know you better. And, who knows. If the date was awful, at least you got a free meal.
26. As a side note to that one, be alert and ask your friends for advice about guys. If he seems like a jerk or a player, be a little more cautious and use discretion.
27. Vitamin C supplements will save your life. College dorms are germ factories, but you can’t really avoid them that much, obviously, because you live there. Do your best to stay healthy and take some vitamin C if you are starting to feel like you’re getting sick.
28. Don’t skip breakfast. I learned this one the hard way. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It gets your metabolism going and helps you start off the day with proper nutrition.
29. Be wise with planning your time. Invest in a decent planner and WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. You don’t want to miss an important deadline on a project or a meeting and you definitely don’t want to accidentally make plans when you already had a previous engagement you scheduled a month ago.
30. Play an intramural sport. Not only will you get the chance to have fun and stay fit, but you will also get the opportunity to make new friends with people you may not ever meet otherwise.
31. Even if you don’t think you need it, if a teacher offers extra credit up front, DO IT. Getting an even higher grade in one class can help boost your GPA. Just remember to not let the extra credit work take away from the time you spend doing required course work for all of your classes.
32. Volunteer. Whether if it’s helping serve a meal for a staff member’s banquet or making packets for an upcoming conference, volunteering gives you an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives, help out your student body and community, meet new people, create new relationships, and sometimes you even get free stuff just for helping out.
33. If you have any questions about one of your courses, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Many times teachers have specific hours for students to come visit them in their offices to ask questions. Take advantage of these times.
34. Buy your college gear. Get the sweatshirt. Buy that hat. Wear the t-shirt all the time. You go to that school. You’d better represent that school.
35. Refresh your wardrobe staples. You probably think that your favorite black ballet flats or your most comfortable pair of jeans are going to last you the whole semester…well you thought wrong. Update your wardrobe for your new college life by upgrading your basics. They will get run down and worn out pretty quickly if you wear your old ones too often.
36. Don’t exclusively purchase books from your campus bookstore. You can purchase them or even rent them for a fraction of the cost online. You may be able to even borrow books from upperclassmen. It never hurts to ask!
37. Make time for a hobby especially one that you have always loved to do. It will help you relax and de-stress when you really need a pick-me-up.
38. Try to eat meals at the same time every day. Doing this helps regulate your metabolism. My dorm supervisor always said “After 6 it sticks!” Although I hated it when she made fun of us for eating popcorn in our beds after lights out, she was right. Don’t eat too late at night.
39. Don’t over dress for the first day of class. Look nice and fresh but don’t overdo it on the makeup and hair. You’ll just have to keep up with all the glamour for the rest of the semester.
40. STAY HYDRATED. I can’t stress this one enough.
41. Stay in touch with your family and friends back home. Make time to call home, write letters to your friends at other schools, and email and text your mentors and other family members. Don’t let the only way they know you’re still alive be by checking your Instagram every few days!
42. Invest in a good laptop before your freshman year. You want it to last until you finish college. Plus you don’t want to have to pay a fortune on a new laptop halfway through your college career when you are probably already buried in school bills.
43. Learn to be creative with cooking in the dorm. Sometimes a coffee maker and a microwave are the only two appliances you are allow to have in a dorm. And sometimes you just need a little break from dining hall food.
44. A new semester is almost like a start to a new year so it’s okay to have “new semester” resolutions.
45. Hanging out with friends and partying may be really fun but remember why you are spending thousands of dollars every year…and let me give you a hint. It’s not to stay up all night every night, goof off in class, or flirt with every guy on campus.
46. Make sure you know pretty much every detail of your medical insurance and what it covers. You don’t want to have to awkwardly call you mom in the emergency room just to ask her the name of you insurance company.
47. Keep emergency money in a safe place that you won’t forget it’s there. Also, going out for ice cream with your friends isn’t an emergency…even though it seems like it is sometimes.
48. Clean your makeup brushes. This is something that is so easy to forget but it is really so necessary. Plus, your makeup will go on so much easier if clean then every couple of weeks.
49. Eat as many fresh fruit and veggies as possible.
50. Get a durable book bag/tote. Honestly, invest in a bag that’s going to last a few years even if it’s not as cute as the one you really want to get. It’s better to have a super durable bag that will last all four years of college than to get one that’s going to fall apart after your first semester.
51. If you get the chance to go to bed early, do it! Don’t stay up all night trying to catch up on your favorite TV series. Your body needs rest and if you have the time to hit the sack early, do it.
52. Take advantage of thrift stores in the area. You never know what kind of really stuff you can find at a thrift store if you never check any out. Whether you need a new pair of rain boots because there has a record amount of rain that season, or if you need a new little black dress for a banquet or fancy gala, always check a thrift store first before you even consider paying full price for something you may only wear a few times.
53. Invest in a comfortable, sensible little black dress and a good pair of black pumps. You can never go wrong with these two articles of clothing. You can dress them up or down depending on the occasion and you will always have a go to outfit if you are on a time constraint.
54. Get a spill proof travel mug. It will come in handy during midterms when all you have time for is a huge mug of coffee for breakfast.
55. Have a throw blanket that can be easily cleaned. You never know when you will have a spontaneous picnic or if it’s going to be freezing outside while you’re in the stands cheering the football team on to victory.
56. Keep your eye out for clubs and groups that will be of a good interest to you. You can get really awesome opportunities to attend events, volunteer for fun and helpful programs, and meet new people who can become lifelong friends!
57. Make sure to divide your chores with you roommate and stay true to your word! If you make a mess, clean it up!
58. A portable phone charger will literally be your best friend. And it will help you make friend’s, too, if someone’s phone is dying and you’re the only one with a charger.
59. If you are required to turn in a project in a 3 prong folder or a binder, always choose black. It looks professional and put together (even if the paper you turned in isn’t!)
60. Have as many things as you can accessible on your phone (mobile banking app, class schedule, Evernote, map of your campus, list of contact info for staff and faculty, etc.). This will make it easier for your to study your class notes while walking to class or checking your bank account while you’re out with your friends so you don’t risk overdrawing your account.